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Attracting younger fans to Citi Field: the challenge for the Mets, Cohen

Citi Field

Now that Steve Cohen’s had some time owning the New York Mets, he’s ready to tackle some big issues that include rebranding the team and updating Citi Field for the younger set.

By younger set, of course, we mean anyone younger than MLB’s current demographic base of 59.7-year-old white males. But, in the Mets’ grand scheme, we mean the 20-35-year-olds who live on social media and who consume sports a little differently than the traditional sports fan. Those fans wants to be at an event, but don’t necessarily want to be planted in a seat down the third-base line for nine innings. Indeed, it’s surprising how many are happy watching the game on a TV in a ballpark bar or suite. Despite what the WSJ says (see below), younger fans are not eschewing live events; they’ll go with the proper wooing and circumstances.

So, knowing how consumption patters are changing and recognizing the need to foster a younger generation of fans, the Mets have brought in some branding experts to review current practices and explore remedies and changes. Some of this is really basic and doesn’t really requite a branding agency — upping a team’s social-media strategy and adding a podcast or two are no-brainers — while other changes will require some imagination and knowledge of how other teams have addressed these issues. MLB has shown itself to be totally inadequate on the social-media front — the geniuses who throw a 30-second ad in front of a 20-second Twitter highlight clip should be fired immediately — so the Mets are forced to go outside the sport for perspective. But we can imagine what sort of Gary Vee/ Barstool crap Cohen and team will be presented. Yuck. New York fans are passionate and smart, and the challenge will be attracting new fans without talking down to them. From the Wall Street Journal:

[Cohen] and his wife Alexandra Cohen have prescribed a marketing overhaul that will include an update to the team’s brand design, including customized fonts in marketing materials like photography, signage and ads, as well as new experiences and features at its stadium meant to give the Mets more cultural credibility.

But the new owners face difficulties beyond player strikeouts, as baseball and other sports struggle to attract young people, a group increasingly apathetic to live games.

“All sports are being challenged with how you attract young fans,” said Jeff Deline, the team’s new chief revenue officer. “How do we get them engaged again? Their consumer habits are completely different.”

Marketing and talent management firm Range Media Partners LLC is leading the effort. The initiative remains in development, but ideas include offering live comedy throughout games, updating existing spaces in the stadium where people can gather, adding more screens throughout the baseball park and making other technology upgrades, said Natalie Bruss, managing partner at Range, which is minority-owned by Mr. Cohen’s venture capital fund, Point72 Ventures.

Nothing here is really new or revolutionary; if you’ve been reading this site for more than a day you know we’ve written extensively about ballpark upgrades with social spaces and more tech. It will be fascinating to see exactly what the Mets will end up doing. When the Wilpons were talking with potential buyers, unlocking new revenue streams at Citi Field was a constant among all three bidders. They were right: Citi Field is a good ballpark with great bones, and there’s a wealth of opportunities for Cohen and crew to raise the Mets to the next level. But it will take a little more vision that just some new fonts and a podcast.

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